RealTime IT News

Linux to Grow Steady for Next Four Years

Linux is much more popular in the enterprise than previously thought, according to a new report out today.

IT research firm IDC combined several of its data studies and threw in a few that it didn't already track to come up with a number that suggests Linux is a mainstream force with a steady growth pattern for the next four years.

IDC predicts the overall market revenue for desktops, servers and packaged software running on Linux will exceed $35 billion by 2008.

The study also found packaged software is the fastest growing market segment within the Linux marketplace in terms of revenue, growing 44 percent annually to more than $14 billion in 2008.

Key packaged software markets on Linux include database, application server software, application and management tools. These software revenues dwarf revenues for the Linux distributions, the study said.

IDC analysts also pointed out that while "free" Linux deployments are attractive, the reality is more commercial and government organizations will move toward paid, supported copies like Red Hat and SUSE in the West and TurboLinux, Red Flag and Asianux in the East.

While Microsoft Windows currently commands a 90 percent share of the total market, the report suggests that Linux will chip away at Redmond's grasp in the relative short term, running in about 25.7 percent of all servers shipped vs. 63 percent for Windows-based systems by 2008.

"When all manifestations of Linux operating systems are counted, Linux is clearly a mainstream solution," Vernon Turner, group vice president of IDC and contributor to the report said. "We see a shift where Linux server operating environment deployments are moving to favor the use of enterprise server hardware."

The IDC report follows a four-year study released yesterday showing Linux has a low bug count, making the code more stable and secure.

"Just about every major hardware vendor concedes that Linux is the No. 2 operating system based on new server shipments," Stacey Quandt, a senior business analyst at the Robert Frances Group told internetnews.com."Still many independent software vendors do not support Linux and are still sitting on the fence. Whether an IDC study with data from OSDL changes this remains to be seen."

Even though the study was partially funded by the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), folks there who help steward the Linux operating system were overwhelmed with the results.

The fact is the methodology reflects the reality of the total market and frankly its more impressive than we thought it was," Bill Weinberg, OSDL's Open Source Architecture Evangelist, told internetnews.com.

Weinberg said when the global economy was suffering, many corporations turned to reducing IT staff and grabbing off-the-shelf technology that needed less maintenance.

"We saw that especially in the telecommunications and enterprise infrastructure," he said. "The habits are still in place, but there seems to be more funds available. We're predicting 2005 a good year for IT acquisition in which Linux can take advantage of that trend."

Key to the study was IDC's addition of non-traditional deployments of servers with Linux as secondary or non-primary OS and redeployments. Previous studies counted only the operating system that was shipped with the computer -- in this case Microsoft Windows -- and not the one that would eventually power the system.

Part of the confusion, according to Weinberg, is that most computers ship with Microsoft Windows pre-installed. The OS is either later discarded for a Linux distribution or operated as a dual-boot system.

The Linux evangelist said the reverse is true in places like China where some consumers purchase Linux systems and wipe out the OS in favor of some pirated Windows software.